Tag Archives: coreopsis

Garden colours jumper

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This is the Orphans for Orphans sweater from Knitting for Peace.  This is the third time I’ve knit this design and it is an ingenious, easy pattern that lends itself to wool in odd amounts and various colours.  This one is made from handspun local wool and dyed with plants from my garden: woad, coreopsis, eucalyptus, woad + coreopsis.

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Where the woad vat was running out, the natural grey of the wool shows through. I cast it on, on an excitable day of knitting confidence when I decided it would fit someone I know!  I think in fact the likeliest candidate is the daughter of the sweethearts who gave me Knitting for Peace. She is no orphan but a delightful and extremely well loved small human.  And if not her, then some other treasure…

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Sometimes it happens that I look at a random selection of yarns and suddenly see what it could become.  This was one such case.  It has some wonkiness to be going on with, but quite frankly, any jumper that isn’t wonky before it goes onto a small person hopefully becomes wonky through sheer activity soon afterward. I’m reliably informed that the recipient is a fine appreciator of knitwear and that she held it close all the way home.  That’s a lovely start!

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Filed under Knitting, Natural dyeing

Ply time!

A while back I had used almost every bobbin I own, each with a different colour of thread on it.


Over time there were even more bobbins of singles than this pictures shows…  finally there has been a season of plying, skeining and washing, and now I have this pile instead.

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Logwood purples, purple-greys and purple-browns, a cochineal pink (and a cochineal-logwood exhaust), three indigo blues, two madder exhaust-oranges, and a coreopsis exhaust yellow.  I didn’t take good enough notes of the fibres–some are on merino roving (the madder), some on polwarth, some on grey corriedale. Maybe there is a little of Malcolm the Corriedale in there too!

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And there has been even more bee swarm action in the neighbourhood.  These bees have taken up residence on a rainwater tank, with some support from a ladder! And… I am so over tending the silkworms 🙂


Filed under Natural dyeing, Spinning

Spinning up a storm. And some more newspaper.

I am continuing to ply the holiday spinning, but this is the last of it… This coreopsis-dyed yellow yarn has been waiting patiently for weeks.  The eucalyptus-dyed yarn is a new spin.


Of course, there is more eucalyptus-dyed corriedale spun on holiday and plied recently.  I elected to keep the two shades distinct.  When I began dyeing I preferred dyeing yarn and was afraid to dye fleece.  Now I prefer to dye the fleece, because it gives me so much choice when it comes to spinning (and I have learned a few things about controlling the temperature of the dye bath to avoid felting).


I also decided that I could probably refine my newspaper spinning skills, and you know, I think I have!  It’s possible to coax the newspaper strips into a tube as you spin, and I like the effect better.  I think I also succeeded in creating a lower twist single that still holds together.  More fun than I had ever expected…



Filed under Natural dyeing, Spinning

Cool spectrum gradient yarn

There has been some plain Jane spinning.  Three ply natural Polwarth, finaly plied after a long wait. Not my best work, unfortunately.  One of the singles is plumper and fluffier than the other two.  Just the same, it’s yarn and it’s a true three ply made from three singles.


In the not-so-plain stakes, there has also been plying of some of the holiday spinning.  This one is Malcolm the Corriedale, dyed yellow with osange orange and my mother’s coreopsis flowers (she is generous enough to collect her dead flowers for me and such a committed gardener that she deadheads her coreopsis).  I overdyed with indigo to create greens and, of course, blue.



No sign of crocking, just in case you’re wondering!  I have several more flour sacks of this fibre carded, pulled into roving through a diz and ready to spin.  Mmmm!


The yarn is three ply and I’ve chain plied it so it will stripe… and just for the sheer pleasure of it.  Because I met internet spinners before I met many in real life, chain plying never seemed to me to be an unusual skill.  I took it up quite early in my spinning career and expected it to be challenging, because I was beginner and most things were challenging.  While I was plying this yarn at my regular Guild group, women who have been spinning for decades were commenting about how easy I made it look.  Ah, the warm glow of competence…  I admire all the things they can do that I find difficult, and there they are, doing just the same thing in reverse.



Filed under Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Alas, poor Malcolm the Corriedale

We had a glorious visit to our friends in the hills on the weekend. There were recently shorn alpacas.  In black…


In white…


And in cinnamon.  But like the sheep, the brown alpacas were too shy for photos.  There was a woodlot of blackwood trees, and some stumps with very impressive fungi growing on them:


There was a wealth of eucalypts and a knowledgeable community member who knew what many of them were. I brought home E Nicholii leaves (I have not had the chance to greet a fully grown specimen before, let alone a row of them), E Cinerea leaves and some massive juvenile E Globulus leaves.


There was fine company, cake and scones and home grown cherries.  Not only that, but koala sightings and visits with rescue joeys (baby kangaroos whose mothers have been killed on the road, being raised by hand with tender loving care).  Such awesomeness!  I took lots of handspun yarn and left quite a bit behind where creative minds were whirling with plans and fingers were itching to get knitting… but there was bad news too.  I got to meet with the people who hand raised the corriedale whose fleece I have been working with most recently, from a lamb.  And sadly, poor Malcolm had recently and unexpectedly died, just before the shearer was due to visit.  We paused on Malcolm’s grave.  So it was special to have taken yarns made from Malcolm’s fleece to share… and I still have some, plus fleece that I dyed with eucalypts last week (it is E Scoparia bark peeling season) …



And fleece that is prepared and ready to spin, from my recent coreopsis–osage orange–indigo dyeing season.  So… although I never did get to meet Malcolm, it’s conceivable I’ve spent more hours with my hands in his fleece than anyone…


And I now have 5 alpaca fleeces and one from Lentil the sheep to think about and share around, such is the generosity of our friends!


Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing, Spinning

Yellows from coreopsis flowers and osage orange

I have decided to branch out from the eucalyptus based palette of ochre–caramel–tan–orange–red–maroon I have been so focused on for the last while and plan toward an indigo vat.  Don’t you love these bold statements?

I still love the eucalypt colours: here, a small quantity of alpaca passing through various stages of preparation.  Picked, dyed locks;


Partially carded batt;


and, finally, yarn–pictured in the dyer’s chamomile patch.


I have decided to try for yellow–green–blue transitions, which will necessarily begin with yellow.  I had coreopsis flowers my mother saved me one summer, as she deadheaded her plants. This collection of flower heads speak to me of her love and her fine qualities as a gardener and a person who loves to share.  I had reservations about the colour I would get from them, as some had gone mouldy.  Her -plants are just so prolific–the stack of wilted heads had trapped enough moisture to create mould.


I also had a little remaining quantity of osage orange shavings of antiquity, gifted to me from the Guild.


I prepared them both for the dyebath, but have to say my tea ball was not a good enough receptacle to retain the osage orange.  I not only sieved the dye vat before adding wool (thank goodness I remembered to do this as I tackled it one night when the amount of sawdust in the vat was not as obvious as in the clear light of day) but also placed the whole tea ball in another fine cloth bag before running an exhaust bath.


Even after the first bath of each dye, there was a lot of colour left, so I ran an exhaust bath and dyed a total of about 800g of white corriedale.  I was especially impressed with the amount of colour and the wonderful smell of the coreopsis bath.  I need not have worried about the mould.  Here is the coreopsis bath between dyeings.


The resulting yellows are lovely.  On the left, coreopsis bath 1, then coreopsis bath 2, osage orange bath 1 and osage orange bath 2.  The coreopsis yellows are quite buttery and golden and the osage orange colours are a little more lemony.  And, there is further evidence that grass seeds and other vegetable matter take dyes quite well!  Now, to build up my courage for the indigo stage and some greens and blues.



Filed under Dye Plants, Eucalypts, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing